Crocheting is a relaxing, fun, and affordable hobby that has become wildly popular in the past decade. It has the added benefit of producing clothes, useful items, and unique gifts, so it’s no surprise that crochet is loved by many. There’s no better time to start learning how to crochet. But is crochet hard to learn?
Crocheting is not hard. You can teach yourself how to crochet online, for free, and entirely alone. Some even learned how to crochet from books as children. You need to learn how to count – no extra math skills needed. You can pick up the basics in just a few hours. But after that, like with any art, you’ll need to practice to master the craft. With enough practice, you can be making scarves, blankets, or toys in just weeks.
Anyone can learn to crochet. I’ve met many crocheters who’ve told me they learned the craft when they were only 6 years old. Others learned how to crochet later in life, sometimes after they became grandparents.
There are a small handful of basic stitches in crochet that you’ll use, even though some crochet books list hundreds of different stitches. This may sound overwhelming until you learn that all these different stitches use the same basic 3-4 movements, just in different combinations and orders.
You can learn these basic movements in just a matter of hours. This unlocks an immense variety of stitches that you can make by mixing and matching these few basic actions.
Most crocheters get by for years just fine knowing just 5 basic stitches. You can even make entire blankets, toys, and sweaters knowing fewer than that.
Why Do People Find It Challenging?
Because crochet is a series of physical movements, it does take practice to be comfortable performing these stitches smoothly and quickly.
It’s like riding a bike – the first few times, it’s awkward. And you wonder how anyone can balance without falling over to the left, or to the right. Everyone who knows how to ride a bike wouldn’t say it’s hard. But it does take some time to pick up.
When you learn crochet, you have to balance how tight and loose the yarn is, while learning how to hold and move the hook. There’s no other way to earn the coordination you need to crochet gracefully, besides practicing. But if you’re like millions of crocheters, that practice is fun, rewarding, and relaxing.
Once you’ve cemented that muscle memory through practice, crocheting can become nearly effortless.
Resources for Learning to Crochet
I learned how to crochet using a combination of books I borrowed from the library, and videos on YouTube. I was entirely self taught, because at the time I wasn’t aware of crochet meetup groups.
Books provided a structured explanation of the basics, and a list of skills I needed to learn. You can find a variety of books at your local library, at nearly any book store, your local yarn store, or a big box craft store.
YouTube videos filled in when the diagrams in the books weren’t clear enough. Quality can vary on YouTube, though, so you may need to watch quite a few videos before you find the one that suits your learning style best.
Self learning worked well for me, because I preferred to learn at my own pace, during my own time, without having to leave the house.
But if you prefer learning from others, local big box craft stores often hold classes that teach crochet. These classes are often held in small groups where one instructor teaches several beginners at once.
What do you need to start?
All you need to start is a hook and some yarn! Plenty of starter kits will sell you more, but until you’re sure this is the right craft for you, there’s no need to spend money on things you may never end up using.
You may also need some scissors to cut the yarn, but the basic office scissors you have at home will do. If you don’t have those, nail clippers can cut yarn just fine.
Note: The hook size and yarn thickness should be appropriate for each other. The hook size I’d recommend for beginners is a US size H hook, also known as a US size 8 or a 5.0 mm hook. For yarn, I’d recommend acrylic yarn. Yarn comes in different thicknesses, called “yarn weights”, which are marked on the label. I’d recommend worsted weight. This is sometimes referred to as medium 4 yarn.
For a more detailed dive into what you need to start crocheting, check out our article here.
Why Learn to Crochet?
Crochet has been found to reduce stress by lowering your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. It also lowers the blood’s level of cortisol, the stress hormone. Crocheting releases serotonin, a natural anti-depressant, and dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter.
People have found that it reduces anxiety, helps them cope with depression, increases their self esteem, and confidence.
It’s also a great way to express yourself, in a time when many of us are expected to conform at work, school, or in our families.
Crochet can be used to make thoughtful, one-of-a-kind gifts. Because of all the useful items you can create, you can make items from the comfort of your own home to give to charity.
Studies have found that learning to crochet can stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Many have found that crocheting provides relief from ADHD, OCD, eating disorders, and other mental health conditions. Some have used it to battle addiction or overcome bad habits.
It can also help people cope with pain and grief.
Many have used it to treat insomnia.
And for millions of others, discovering crochet communities both online and in their local area have helped them create friendships and build a support group.
Crochet vs Knitting
Both crochet and knitting use yarn as the material, but the tools are different. Crochet uses crochet hooks, but knitting uses knitting needles.
The age-old debate is, “which one is better?” While volumes could be written about this, I’ll only mention the main differences relevant for someone who’s trying to choose which craft to start learning.
One is not better than the other. They’re slightly different crafts, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
- Crochet is generally considered easier to learn
I taught myself to crochet first, and only picked up knitting once I was very proficient at crochet. Even then, with all the skills I learned from crochet that could carry over to knitting like yarn tension, how to read a pattern, etc, I found knitting to be quite challenging and very unforgiving.
Of course, there are probably people out there who may have found knitting to be easier. But in all my years of avid yarn crafting, everyone I’ve met who learned both have said that learning to crochet was easier.
In knitting, you must coordinate two needles and the yarn. In crochet, you only have to coordinate one hook and the yarn. It’s simpler.
- A comprehensive collection of crochet supplies is less expensive than a comprehensive knitting set
The minimum cost needed to get started in either hobby is very low. In crochet, that’s a hook and some yarn. In knitting, that’s a pair of needles and some yarn.
But to be able to create the full range of items in both knitting and crochet, you’ll have to spend more on knitting.
There’s a considerable list of supplies you can use for both hobbies like yarn needles, scissors, row counters, stitch markers, and measuring tape.
But to achieve the full breadth of things you can accomplish in either crochet, you just need a full set of crochet hooks, which can be obtained for less than $10. To be able to knit in the round (for sweaters and socks) and to be able to create cabling in knitting, you’ll need a set of circular needles or double pointed needles, in every size.
When I decided to try knitting, I began the hobby frugally because I wasn’t sure I would want to stick with it. So I only bought what I needed, but ended up spending so much more than I did on crochet. I have numerous complete crochet hook sets, but don’t yet have a full set of knitting needles required for tubular knitting.
- Crochet is much more forgiving of mistakes for a couple of reasons
Knitting is a weave, whereas crochet is a series of knots. Because of this, in general, a single mistake in a knit object can be much more obvious than a single mistake in crocheting.
You can fudge a crochet stitch and it can still appear very similar to the others. But generally, for knitting, this is not the case.
Also, if you drop a stitch while knitting, your entire project can unravel, because it’s a weave. I suspect this is a panic that every beginner knitter has experienced.
There’s only one stitch you can drop in crochet, and that’s the most recent one. This is much easier to recover from than a dropped stitch in knitting.
- It’s not necessarily true that crochet is quicker or uses up more yarn
This is a popular myth floating around about the fiber arts. But it’s been dispelled many times by experimentation.
Whether one craft is easier or faster depends on the individual project. It’s not a generalization that can be accurately applied to one craft or the other in totality.
Some items made with certain stitches can work up slower or faster in crochet than a similar knit equivalent. And certain patterns can use up more or less yarn than its knit equivalent.
This generalization may have been applicable decades ago when only a few crochet stitches were popular. But today, there have been so many new stitches created and popularized. Bright, creative minds have invented many innovative ways to create blankets, garments, accessories, and toys.
- Knit fabric is generally very soft and drapey, while crochet fabric can be made to be drapey or stiff
You can accomplish a variety of textures with both crafts, and both can yield fabric that has beautiful, soft drape for snuggly blankets or flattering, flowing dresses.
But with crochet, you can generate a very stiff fabric, which is ideal for items that need to stand up or retain a shape, such as stuffed toys, baskets, or table runners.
This unique feature of crochet allows it to create almost any shape. You can still make stuffed toys with knitting, but you’re much less limited in the variety of shapes you can achieve. Crocheting a flower is easy, but replicating that in knitting may prove challenging.
Because knitting is more drapey, it’s great for making flat or tubular items such as sweaters and scarves. You can make beautiful garments and accessories in crochet, too.
Tips Every Crochet Beginner Should Know
- Take some time to understand hook sizes
The general gist of it is: a smaller hook makes smaller stitches and therefore a smaller end product. A bigger hook makes bigger stitches, and therefore a bigger end product. Certain hook sizes do best with certain yarn thicknesses.
That’s all you’ll need to know starting out, but for a more thorough explanation with pictures, check out our article on Why Crochet Hook Size Matters.
- Pick the right yarn thickness
A yarn’s thickness is also called the yarn’s “weight.” Some say thicker yarns (like #5 bulky yarn, or #6 super bulky yarn) are easier to see and learn with, but many people learn with #4 worsted yarn just fine. Any thinner than that, and it may be tougher to learn with.
- Cotton is not newbie friendly
Cotton yarn doesn’t have much stretch to it at all, and can be difficult to work with even for experienced crocheters. Do yourself a favor and aim for something like acrylic.
- Your first patterns should be easy and popular
This way, it’s most likely to be error free, most likely to have a video tutorial dedicated to it, and most questions anyone may have had about it are likely to have been answered. If you find a pattern on Ravelry or on online, you may be able to find comments from other people who have made that pattern, offering advice or answers to questions. The more help you can get in these initial stages, the better. Once you’re comfortable following a pattern, you can branch off to more obscure patterns that may have mistakes or unclear phrasing.
- Know that stitch names differ if the pattern is written with US vs British terminology
One of the most basic stitches in crochet is called the single crochet (or “sc” for short) in US terminology. This *same* stitch in British terminology is referred to as double crochet (or “dc” for short.) This can get confusing quickly because in US terminology, there’s a completely different stitch called double crochet (also abbreviated “dc”).
This can seem really confusing, but once you’re aware that there are multiple different sets of terminology, you’re much less likely to be confused. Most pattern authors will mention which set of terminology (US or British) they’re using.
- If you’re having trouble getting the hook into the loop, crochet a little more loosely
Every beginner struggles with tension at some point. Starting out, some people crochet too loosely, and others crochet too tightly, making it hard for them to make stitches. If you’re having trouble inserting your hook into places, you may be crocheting too tightly.
You can either hold the feed yarn more loosely, which will make the holes bigger (giving you an easier time inserting your hook.) If you’re already holding the feed yarn loosely, but struggling to insert your hook, check to make sure that you’re not tightening the stitch after it’s formed.
- Give your hands a rest if they hurt
When you’re first learning to crochet, your hands are using muscles you’re not used to using for anything else. Parts of your hand may start to cramp or feel tired. It’s just like if you were working out any other muscle. Give them a rest! Learning to crochet is a marathon, not a race.
- Experiment with different ways to hold the yarn and hook
There’s no need to force yourself to hold the hook or yarn in the same way a YouTuber or a book shows you.
There are many different ways to hold the hook. You can deviate from the most popular ways by adding a few tweaks of your own. Try out a few different holds to find the one that feels most natural and comfortable to you.
Same goes for holding the yarn. There are a few popular positions, but feel free to change it slightly to suit your needs. Most commonly, people hold the yarn in one hand and the hook with the other, but some people even hold both in the same hand.
Occasionally, you’ll find that a different type of hook (perhaps one with an ergonomic handle) can do wonders for learning because they can be easier to hold, especially for people with certain health conditions. Aluminum hooks can also be tough to cold, especially since the metal can make your fingers cold.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help – yarncrafts are often some of the nicest people!
If you are teaching yourself to crochet, you may encounter some issues that can be tough to diagnose and fix on your own as a newbie. Especially since it can be hard to figure out what words to search on Google to describe your issue.
A local in-person yarncrafting group can be your friend! You can find one by calling your local yarn store, or your local library and asking if they have one. Meetup.com is also a great way to search for a meetup. You may need to search for a knitting one, as some start out as knitting-only but open up to both crafts.
If meeting in person isn’t your thing, there are also online crochet forums like Ravelry or reddit.com/r/crochet. You can take a picture of your work, and upload it to these forums to ask for help.
No need to be shy or self conscious. Online forums like these see hundreds of newbies a day. Your local meetup has possibly coached many beginners through common problems. After all, every crocheter had to start somewhere.
- Numerous short practice sessions are better than a one long session
When it comes to learning most new skills like a new language or ability, spaced repetition is extremely effective. You may have heard that when it comes to learning, it’s better to break up studying into short sessions spaced out over several different days, instead of lumping it all into one day.
So 30 minutes on 6 different days can lead to much greater improvement than one 3 hour sitting, even though you spent the same amount of time, total.
The time between practice sessions allows your brain and muscles to process what you’ve learned. Don’t be afraid to put your crochet down and walk away if you’re feeling frustrated.
Some crochet beginners find that putting down crochet for a week or two helped them immensely, and that they were able to solve a problem just fine after the break even though they previously struggled.
- There’s no need to feel bad if your work comes out wonky or has to be redone
There are going to be times when you spend a few hours working on a project, only to find that you made a mistake or it came out looking uneven. Sometimes, the only solution is to undo it and start over.
Your practice swatches may look more like trapezoids or triangles than rectangles for a little while, and that’s okay!
You’re certainly not alone. Every crocheter has been there, many times. There’s no need to be too down on yourself since you’re still learning. I’ve had to undo HOURS of work when I first learned. Even if you had to start over, it wasn’t all in vain. It was an opportunity for you to perform a lot of practice stitches. Even though they may be unraveled and gone, your muscles and your brain will retain the effects of having practiced those hundreds of movements.
- Everyone learns differently, so try different methods: videos, books, magazines, or classes
Some people learn better from written material, others are visual learners and prefer video or the ability to see it in person. Try different resources to figure out what suits you best.
Even if you know your preferred learning style, sometimes certain authors or YouTubers can be confusing. You may need to go through several different books or channels before you find one that just makes everything “click.”
There’s no right or wrong way to learn, and everyone learns at their own pace. And yes, we’ve all had to watch that one video 500 times before finally getting it, or re-reading that block of text over and over before we understood what was happening. You’re not alone.
- Set appropriate goals so you can experience easy wins and avoid frustration
Once you learn the basics, you may be immediately tempted to try a complex pattern instead of a beginner friendly pattern. If you aim for a simpler, easier friendly pattern, where imperfections in size or shape won’t render the object unusable, you can save yourself a lot of frustration. A dishcloth can be much more achievable and within reach than, say, a form-fitting complicated lace sweater.
Sometimes, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, which has caused me to lose interest in new hobbies. That complex pattern will still be there, and taking easier steps first can help you build up confidence and skills quickly.
- Big box craft stores almost always have a coupon available
Generally, stores like Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabrics have a daily coupon that you can use. These can be up to 40% or 50% off a single item, or 20% off your total purchase. To find them, google the store name and the word “coupon.” You can either print them out to bring in, or pull them up on your smartphone, and have the cashier scan your phone’s screen.
These are limited to one per customer per day, but this can help you save a lot of money in the long run. These coupons won’t be automatically applied unless you bring them in.
This tiny bit of effort can allow you to try different hooks and new yarns without breaking the bank.